KOLKATA, 13 th November,2008 - Shorn of glamour, the 14th Kolkata Film Festival got off to a drab and colourless start here this week. Veteran filmmaker Mrinal sen inaugurated the eight-day event, during which 276 films from 62 countries will be screened at 11 auditoria in the city, besides at one each in Siliguri, Barasat and Burdwan.
Actor-filmmaker Nandita Das was the only Bollywood presence, with the state government failing to rope in any other megastars of the country's tinsel capital despite sounding out megastars like Shahrukh Khan and Shabana Azmi. Nandita is attending the festival with her directorial debut Firaq. Among others present were actor Soumitra Chatterjee and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Bhattacharjee quoted the opening lines of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, saying it was "the best of times and the worst of times". The chief minister said the ongoing financial crisis in the U.S., which has implications for Europe and even India, made the present "perhaps the worst of times". "On the other hand, the best of times perhaps is that a black president along with his black family members will be entering the White House," he said, referring to Barack Obama's election as the U.S. president.
The centenary tribute to French director Jacques Tati will be the highlight of the annual event that ends Nov. 17. Tati's masterpieces, including Play Time, My Uncle and The Big Day, will be showcased here. Under a special segment Remembering Ray, filmmaker Satyajit Ray's favourite Hollywood films as well as his restored creations, including Teen Kanya, Parash Pathar, Joy Baba Felunath and the short film Two, will be screened. Besides, Aparajito, the second film in Ray's legendary Apu Trilogy will also be shown.
For veteran actress Shabana Azmi, filmmaker-turned-actor Farhan Akhtar's performance, was pitch-perfect- a title that she would otherwise give only to actors Balraj Sahni and Paresh Rawal.
"Farhan took me by surprise with his performance in Rock On. He was pitch-perfect," said veteran actress Shabana, who is married to Farhan's father, writer-poet Javed Akhtar.